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Question

21. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the long-term plans for the Courts Service in counties Meath and Louth. [15533/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that court sittings in County Meath are provided in two court venues in the county, Trim and Navan. The courthouse in Trim was refurbished in 2001 at a capital cost of €7.6 million. Video technology has recently been introduced in Trim courthouse which will facilitate video conferencing between the courthouse and prisons with a view to reducing the number of prisoners physically being brought to Court. The courthouse facility in Navan is a leased premises to provide a temporary solution to accommodate court sittings in Navan. In the longer term the requirement for a modern court complex in Navan is recognised and the Courts Service is currently actively pursuing options to source a suitable site for a courthouse in the town.
In relation to County Louth, court sittings in the county are provided from three court venues, Dundalk, Drogheda and Ardee. The courthouse in Dundalk was refurbished in 2003 at a capital investment of €10.3 million. As the Deputy will be aware, a new courthouse is currently under construction in Drogheda as part of a Public Private Partnership Bundle of seven courthouses in various locations nationwide. Delivery of this courthouse is expected in April/May 2017 and, once available, it should address any capacity concerns. The new courthouse is a two courtroom venue which will facilitate both Circuit and District Court business.
As a matter of policy, on completion of any major refurbishment/construction project, I understand that the Courts Service undertakes a review of the delivery of court services with a view to ensuring the delivery of best possible services to court users while maximising the value of investment in such facilities.